Defy Colorado’s goals are: (1) to break the cycle of mass incarceration, violence and poverty to create communities of support and new legacies for the people whom we serve and (2) replicate our programs in every prison across Colorado. As of January 2019, Defy Colorado has facilitated over 400 volunteer visits to prison.

Defy Colorado is now in three Colorado prisons: Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility (AVCF), Colorado State Penitentiary (CSP) and La Vista Correctional Facility (LVCF), a facility serving women, bringing our total number of facility partnerships to three.

Our inaugural cohorts at AVCF and CSP combined to graduate 78 male EITs in December 2018, and our second cohorts at these facilities will transform the lives of 30 EITs. The recent addition of La Vista Correctional Facility allowed us to transform the lives of 30 women EITs, bringing our grand total to 175 EITs served!

EITs “defy the odds” and break generational legacies of poverty and incarceration.

  • Nationally, Defy has a less than 5% recidivism rate meaning that less than 5% return to prison. That means that more than 95% of our program participants do not return after being released from prison!
  • Not only do we break the cycle of incarceration for one individual, we break generational cycles of recidivism. By helping our EITs become better leaders in business they naturally become better leaders in their family. When our program participants remain free they maintain their important role of parenting and while 70% of children with an incarcerated parent will follow in their parents’ footsteps keeping a parent in the home leads to family stability, emotional security among children and the increased likelihood that families will have basic needs met.
“My experience with Defy while I was in prison was a blessing. People I had never met before came to spend time with me, listen to me and share their lives with me. For me, in prison, that meant a whole lot. Now that I’m out, the experience I’m feeling/getting is love! (I have) three wonderful people who still communicate with me, check up on me and are proud of my accomplishments so far on parole. They are always a message or phone call away for any kind of help I may need. To me, that’s love.” –Dammion (Post-Release EIT)
“Through Defy [Colorado], I learned what is necessary to start a business and how to conduct oneself in a business setting. [When I am released,] I will be able to appear as if I have done hundreds of interviews — even if it’s my first one.” –An EIT at AVCF to a volunteer.
“It has been a life-changing, motivating and inspirational experience. Not just in business but in life. Being able to express myself more without being angry, it has helped me communicate with my family.” –Mario (EIT at AVCF)
“My brother Darrius is a recent graduate of the Defy Colorado program. Over the years of incarceration, I saw my brother deal with many obstacles. Defy Colorado helped him focus and challenge his many talents towards positive steps in his life. Defy has changed the way my brother views himself and others. He is now more positive, more compassionate, and because of the help of the countless volunteers, he has a renewed self-value. This has enabled him to reconnect with his family on many levels. Defy Colorado gave my little brother back, it gave our family hope for a better tomorrow, today! I am a big supporter of all of the people that made my family and my brother whole again.” –Travis
“[Defy Colorado] defies the odds, defies the traditional way of looking at rehabilitation and creates its own energy, its own hurricane of possibility.” –Governor John Hickenlooper.
“Volunteering with Defy has been one of the most profound and impactful experiences in my life. As a society, we have so much to learn from each other and teach each other — and I believe that healing begins with understanding, hope and hard work. I’m grateful to Defy for doing this work every single day.” –Jenna (Founder, Material Change Co.)
“Prior to visiting Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility I believed in the stereotypes that people who were incarcerated were “thugs”. I see now that many of these people were neglected or abused and never had a legitimate first chance. I see now that a little love can help people thrive. People can be shown a better way in life because without that what other choice do they have?” –Kim (Owner, 4 Walls That Fit Real Estate)
“I knew the EITs had a heart and soul but to see inside each — to see them as just the human beings that they are and to connect in a way to know they are just like me but made one tragic mistake — was heart-wrenching. I desperately want good things for each of them. I am proud of Defy for making a difference in the lives of those who deserve a second chance. I received more than I gave, and I am ready to do it again.” –Dave (Founder/Managing Partner, Equity West Investment Partners, LLC)

# of EITs graduated

# of volunteer trips to prison

Number of direct volunteer service hours


Nelson Henderson